Dogs, cats, fish, bunnies and birds. It seems like everybody wants one, and it's your job to provide! In Pet Shop Hop you play Cassie, a zoology major working to preserve her family's pet store against the might of the Megapet Superstore. It's a resource management game along the lines of Airport Mania and Magic Farm, but tasks are separated into distinct categories and the atmosphere is a bit more relaxed and, well, cuddlier.
Customers mosey into your store and a thought bubble soon appears overhead. Sometimes he or she will want a specific animal — say, for example, a blue fish or a brown rabbit. Others know what kind of pet but don't really care about the color, while a select few are willing to be sold anything. All you have to do is grab the pet each customer wants, provide any accessories or extras if necessary, and make the sale. The faster you move the happier each customer will be, and happy customers pay top dollar for your services.
In addition to selling cute furballs (pretend "fur" includes scales and feathers) you'll also need to mind the animals' needs. Cages must be kept clean and you also need to make sure there's enough food for the animals to eat. A few other small tasks are introduced later, further dividing your attention between customer service and managing your store.
As with most resource management games, Pet Shop Hop lets you buy upgrades between levels to give you an edge over picky consumers. Buy better food to keep animals fed longer, or pick out decorations to help customers feel at ease while waiting for their new pet. You also have to choose how many of each pet to buy, being careful not to underestimate the demand lest you send customers away with a frown on their face.
Analysis: Resource management games tend to follow a strict pattern of behavior, introducing you to new products, grumpier customers and more upgrades as you play. The experience generally gets more hectic as you progress, but in Pet Shop Hop I found the speed remained at a steady clip, never throwing too many things my way at once (beyond the initial introduction of new gameplay elements).
It's a little frustrating having to divide your attention between caring for customers and caring for animals, but certain upgrades relieve some of the pressure. The extra gameplay mode, Challenge, is a welcome addition that allows you to hop right in and play a more complex game to earn as much profit as you can.
Pet Shop Hop falls a little short in the visuals department. Animations and character models are stiff and mostly lifeless. The art direction is good and the overall design pleasing, but the game won't impress your eyes by any means. Also, some of the pets and icons you have to click are awfully small, leading to some frustrating pixel hunting moments when the store is crowded.
There's a surprising amount of depth to Pet Shop Hop, and despite its lackluster appearance you'll find it's a winner on almost every front. And who can resist a cuddly wuddly bunny, anyway?!